Pontifications: Assessing the future of stand-alone GE Aviation

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 22, 2021, © Leeham News: GE Aviation’s (GEA) spin-off takes the corporate burden off its back and opens that way to move forward just as commercial aviation should be over the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Scott Hamilton

The engine unit will no longer be dragged down by, and cash diverted to, GE Corp.’s problems. It can raise money for research and development of new engines and for eco-aviation, without it being siphoned off for corporate or sister company uses.

GEA has challenges ahead, to be sure.

The business model for engine companies has been upended, requiring an entirely new approach to selling engines and services. Historically, engine makers often deeply discount engines—up to 80% or more in some cases—and contract maintenance, repair, and overhaul services to make their profits.

As the COVID-19 pandemic prematurely prompted airlines to retire older aircraft, maintenance, repair, and overhaul revenues and profits shrank, sometimes dramatically. And, with a new emphasis on eco-aviation, new planes have engines with warranties and extended on-wing time that pressure MRO revenues.

Breaking up GE Corp. into three major units will take a few years. When it’s over, chairman Larry Culp remains chairman of GE Aviation. John Slattery remains CEO.

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Book Review: Flying Blind is a must-read about the Boeing 737 MAX crisis

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: Flying Blind, The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing is the sad story of how The Boeing Co., once renowned for its engineering prowess, descended into the depths of crisis with its most profitable airplane.

Authored by Bloomberg news reporter Peter Robison, much of the story is well known on the proverbial 35,000-foot level. Congressional hearings, investigative reporting, crash coverage of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 310, provided plenty of grist for the mill.

Robison delves deeper into the crisis that encompassed Boeing from March 2019 with the ET 310 crash, from which it won’t recover for years. I point to the Ethiopian crash as the start of the crisis, because for the most part, the Lion Air crash was viewed as just another crash—until Ethiopian’s tragedy made it clear there was something deadly wrong with the 737 MAX.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 30. Serial Production

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca.

November 19, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we described how we finished the testing and the process to get our Type Certificate.

Now we look at the phase after Design and Production certification, the start of production, Figure 1. The upstart and ramp of production have many challenges. We will start the discussion with one that is often overseen, the cost of ramping production to full serial production rate.

Figure 1. Our program plan for the aircraft. Source: Leeham Co.

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The end of A380 production

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By Vincent Valery


Emirates’ 100th A380 delivered

Nov. 18, 2021, © Leeham News: The 251st and final A380 delivery to Emirates will happen in the next few weeks before the end of the year. With that in mind, LNA thought it relevant to look back on the Superjumbo. The program meant so much for Airbus but ultimately failed to live up to its high commercial expectations.

  • Competing visions to meet future air travel growth;
  • A relatively less delayed entry into service;
  • Ongoing struggles to accumulate new orders;
  • Future operational prospects;
  • Where the Superjumbo works and does not.

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Boeing lands a series of passenger and freighter orders at Dubai

By Judson Rollins


November 16, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing captured a handful of orders and a further expansion into freighter conversion at this week’s Dubai Air Show.

The largest of these, announced Tuesday, is for 72 737 MAXes destined for Indian startup Akasa Air. These will include a mix of 737-8s and 737-8-200s. Akasa plans to offer commercial flights starting next summer.

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ATR, Pratt & Whitney launch new turboprop engine

By Judson Rollins

November 16, 2021, © Leeham News: ATR and Pratt & Whitney Canada jointly announced a new PW127XT engine for the ATR-42 and -72 series at the Dubai Air Show. The XT designation stands for “extra time on wing.”

Pratt & Whitney says the engine will offer 40% greater time on wing, 20% lower maintenance cost, and 3% lower fuel consumption than the current-generation PW127M.

The 40% time on wing assumes a 60-minute average mission in “benign environments.” The reduction in maintenance cost is driven by a requirement for just two scheduled engine events in ten years. Fuel burn improvements were achieved via a new compressor and updated turbine module. Read more

Air Lease Corp.’s A220 order may be followed soon by others

By Scott Hamilton

Airbus A220-300 for Air Lease Corp. Photo credit: Airbus.

Nov. 16, 2021, © Leeham News: Air Lease Corp. added another 25 Airbus A220s to its backlog with Airbus. The letter of intent, announced at the Dubai Air Show, brings ALC’s A220 backlog to 75, the most of any lessor.

ALC also is the first customer to publicly order the new Airbus A350F.

ALC announced the LOI yesterday at the air show. It was part of a package of 111 aircraft. In addition to the A220s, ALC signed for 55 A321neos, 20 A321XLRs, four A330neos and seven A350Fs.

Airbus has 643 firm orders for the A220: 90 for the smaller A220-100 and 553 for the larger A220-300. The -300 competes directly with the Airbus A319neo and the Boeing 737-7.

With the Dubai Air Show underway, LNA learned that there are at least two big orders that might emerge before year end that boost the book to nearly 800. One deal is with an exclusive Boeing operator, who also is in talks for an A321neo order. The sub-type couldn’t be learned, but given the carrier’s route system, it almost certainly will include the LR and/or XLR.

Interest in the A220 continues to pick up under the Airbus ownership. With the pandemic slowing, additional orders appear to be in the offing sooner than later.

Airbus continues its cost-cutting efforts on the program. LNA reported detail in a Sept. 28 post. During the IATA AGM Oct. 3-5 in Boston, Airbus’ chief commercial officer, Christian Scherer, elaborated.

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Air Lease Corporation tops LOI with launch order for Airbus new freighter

By Bjorn Fehrm

November 15, 2021, ©. Leeham News Dubai: Air Lease Corporation (ALC) crowned its agreement for 111 Airbus single-aisle and wide-body aircraft with a launch order for the new A350F freighter.

The order for seven A350F was part of a 111 unit long-term deal to top up ALC’s 100 aircraft order from Le Bourget Airshow 2019. With 25 A220-330s, 55 A321neos, 20 A321 XLRs, four A330neos, and seven A350Fs, Air Lease is now covered until after 2025.

“We think it’s timely to order these aircraft now, before the post COVID rush for new aircraft sets in,” said Air Lease’s Executive Chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy. The leasing company thus secures its availability of aircraft in a market with rekindling demand and an Airbus that’s approaching capacity limits.

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Update on twin-aisle production rates

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By Vincent Valery


Nov. 15, 2021, © Leeham News: Airbus and Boeing updated their commercial production plans a few weeks ago, including rates on their twin-aisle families.

As a result of solid freighter demand, Boeing is considering increasing the 777F production rate from around 1.5 per month. Lingering production issues leave the Dreamliner assembly line at two per month until deliveries resume. The 767 line stays at three per month for now.

Airbus delayed an increase in the A350 production rate from five to six per month to early 2023. However, the OEM surprised the market by announcing an increase in the A330 production rate to three per month by late 2022.

LNA has repeatedly pointed out the weak A330neo order book in recent years. Airbus said that recent commercial successes allow it to ramp up A330 production.

While Boeing was more cautious about a near-term recovery in twin-aisle aircraft orders, Airbus recently stated that interest was picking up. LNA investigates the latest production plans on commercial twin-aisle programs and compares them with early 2020 and 2021.

  • A head-scratching A330 production increase;
  • Pushing 777X deliveries to the right;
  • Differing plans for the A350 and 787;
  • Sustaining the 767 production rate.

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Pontifications: Bringing some reality on electric airplanes

Nov. 15, 2021, © Leeham News: The momentum and press about electric airplanes is spinning out of control.

By Scott Hamilton

Earlier this month, there was an article from one of the most respected news organizations by a reporter who apparently isn’t an aviation reporter that read like a press release from a start-up company. The normal beat reporter would never have been taken in by the hype.

The start-up claims there will be a battery-powered BAe 146 by 2027 with a 460-mile range. Aviation reporter Jason Rabinowitz had a field day on Twitter with the claim.

LNA’s Bjorn Fehrm wrote a long series about the technical challenges of battery-powered electric airplanes. Let’s now look at the market implications.  Read more